Recent Commonplace Entries


“Christ led me to Marx. I don’t think the pope understands Marxism. For me, the four gospels are all equally communist. I’m a Marxist who believes in God, follows Christ, and is a revolutionary for the sake of his kingdom.” (Father Ernesto Cardenal, in an interview in 1984, as reported in his NYT obituary, March 2)

“And there is controversy over Nashville’s signature dish, hot chicken, an African-American creation that many feel has been misappropriated and widely marketed by white people.” (from a report on the tornado in Nashville, from NYT, March 5)


“Virtually the entire increase in mortality has been among white adults without bachelor’s degrees – some 70 percent of all whites. Blacks, Hispanics, college-educated whites, and Europeans also succumb to suicide, drug overdoses, and alcohol-related deaths, but at much lower rates that have risen little, if at all, over time.” (Helen Epstein, Visiting Professor of Human Rights and Global Public Health at Bard, from New York Review of Books, March 26)

“Throughout the history of the world, it’s rarely been the case that people say, ‘You know, this person is really rich, and I really like him.’” (David Rubenstein, co-founder, Carlyle Group, in NYT, March 15)

 “Proud Caucasians one and all . . .

Hear your wives and daughters call  . . .

Rise, defend their spotless virtue

With your strong and manly arms  . . .

Rise and drive this Black despoiler from your state.”

(lyrics to ‘Rise Ye Sons of Carolina’, the anthem of the White Supremacy Campaign, quoted in David Zucchino’s Wilmington’s Lie, p 162)

Check Your Intersectionality Frames!

“She said candidates did not have to choose between class-first politics and addressing racial inequities, but that they must articulate the interplay between them. ‘Intersectionality isn’t about virtue-signaling or wokeness, it’s about how we build a majority in progressive Democratic politics,’ she added. ‘If folks have bad racial justice frames, or gender justice frames, or identity frames, you won’t go anywhere in expanding the party.’” (Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, from NYT, March 19)

“A slightly longer runway might enable Kidlington (now ‘London Oxford’) to welcome mid-sized planeloads of Chinese shoppers heading for Bicester Village.” (Martin Vander Weyer, in the Spectator, March 7)

“Tell me about this Plato cat.” (Dave Brubeck’s chat-up line to his future wife for seventy years, Iola, from review of Philip Clark’s Dave Brubeck: A Life in Time in the Spectator, March 7)

“And in another year, everything will be different again. It is always like that, and always will be; you are forever standing on the brink, in a place where you cannot see ahead; there is nothing of which to be certain except what lies behind. This should be terrifying, but somehow it is not.” (from Penelope Lively’s Consequences, p 27)

God and the Corona Virus

“None of us have a fear of corona,” said one of them, Roni Arif, the head of a community health center in Mamuju, Sulawesi. “We are afraid of God.” (from report on the Tablighi Jamaat, in NYT, March 21)

“It’s protecting the clinicians so you don’t have one person who’s kind of playing God. It is chilling, and it should not happen in America.” (Cassie Sauer, chief executive of the Washington State Hospital Association, from NYT, March 21)

“Jesus is my protection. He is my sanitizer.” (Father Allawi of the Maronite Catholic Church in Beirut, from NYT, March 23)

“Well, I was surprised to see the leader of the proletariat so elegantly dressed. His attire was impeccable, and I was particularly struck by the Parisian calf-skin gloves he took off of his beautifully manicured hands.” (Annette Nancarrow, artist, describing Trotsky to her son, as recounted by her grandson, Bret Stephens, in NYT, March 22)

St. Mugg is Back

“In my new book Morality: Restoring the Common Good in Divided Times, I argue that without a return to a shared commitment to the common good, liberal democracy will fail. The free market and the democratic state are not sufficient in themselves to sustain a free society. As the sense of moral community has faded, we have had increasing economic inequality, dysfunctional politics, threats to freedom of speech at universities, public shaming by social media, and a breakdown of the arenas such as family and community in which we learn the choreography of interpersonal grace and the habits of the heart that make for virtue. It is the most countercultural book I have written, and also the one I felt most urgent. We need less ‘I’, more ‘we’”. (Jonathan Sacks, in the Spectator, March 14)

“I think of chess-players, crossword-puzzle addicts, Egyptologists, numismatists, philologists, lexicographers, musicologists, – in short, of that particular kind of quiet, self-absorbed, recondite intellect, which is often overlooked or even mildly despised in the modern world, but which, for a few years, came together in a suburban park in the dreary midlands of England, and helped save western civilization.” (Robert Harris, in Foreword to Michael Paterson’s Secret War.)

“As the stricken ships exploded one ship spilled out liquid all over (the water) and as it became alight the ships were all travelling through waves of flaming fire. The sea was so brilliantly lit that the whole scene was like a well-lit stage. The crew on board a burning ship formed a queue and a priest placed the Holy Sacrament into each man’s mouth, made the sign of the cross, then each man, after he had taken the Sacrament, jumped overboard right into the flames. The priest was the last man; he also swallowed the Sacrament, then, clasping his hands together, he too dived into the flames  .  .  .” (S. France, writing about a British Atlantic convoy in 1940, from Michael Paterson’s Secret War, p 111)

“Listening to classical music is like reading philosophy books. Not everybody has to do it.” (Krzysztof Penderecki, from his NYT obituary, March 30)

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